2. Portugal, Alentejo, Evora, Capela dos Ossos - November 2016 The Capela dos Ossos is a small interior chapel located next to the entrance of the Church of St. Francis. The Chapel gets its name because the interior walls are covered and decorated with human skulls and bones. Inside the Capela dos Ossos a poem about the need to reflect on one’s existence hangs in an old wooden frame on one of the pillars: “Where are you going in such a hurry traveler? Stop … do not proceed; You have no greater concern, Than this one: that on which you focus your sight. Recall how many have passed from this world, Reflect on your similar end, There is good reason to reflect If only all did the same. Ponder, you so influenced by fate, Among the many concerns of the world, So little do you reflect on death; If by chance you glance at this place, Stop … for the sake of your journey, The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.” by Fr. António da Ascenção
3. Portugal, Alentejo, Vine plant - September 2016 In 2005, South Oregon University scientist Gregory V. Jones identified Alentejo (“southern Portugal” in his words) as the world’s most challenged wine region (out of 27 world wine regions) from a climate change perspective. The region is noted for it vast cork production but has in recent years garnered attention for its table wine production. Alentejo accounts for more than 40 percent of the wine consumed in Portugal. But the market is changing and the region must adjust and evolve. The domestic market has not fully recovered from the global financial crisis and price pressure is extreme, especially in the lower price tiers. At the same time, the traditional export markets — especially former Portuguese colonies Angola (#1 on the export list) and Brazil — are struggling.
4. Portugal, Alentejo, Portrait of a beekeeper - November 2016 Beekeepers report having to split their hives more often to make up for losses, entailing more work than in previous decades. And for commercial beekeepers maintaining thousands of bee hives, all of this additional work means more employees, more salaries, and more expenses. The major driver of these challenges is the near-global spread of parasites like the varroa mite and the dozens of other diseases that beset commercial honey bees, which require a great deal more work and expense for both commercial and hobbyist beekeepers. Varroa mite counts must be carefully monitored, and mite control preparations applied at precisely the right times. Otherwise, mite infestations can get ahead of beekeepers, propagate and devastate the hives. The Western honeybee is credited with pollinating a third of the fruit and vegetables grown across Europe. Populations of honeybees have collapsed in recent years. Pesticides, especially a new class of chemicals, are high on the list of suspects. If bees are drastically depleted further, the crops most likely to suffer include those most commercially important in southern Portugal.
5. Portugal, Alentejo, Sao Domingos Mine - October 2016 From 1868 till its closure in 1966, due to exhaustion of the ore, São Domingos continued as an open cast exploration. It is calculated that all the periods of mining resulted in the production of 25 Mt, and mine waste material in the area is estimated at several hundred thousand tons. In this context, important environmental problems are associated, which are visible within an area around 50 km2.
6. Portugal, Alentejo, Vila Vicosa, abandoned marble quarry - November 2016 In the quarries and transformation factories of Estremoz-Borba-Vila Viçosa, which is the so-called triangle of Alentejo marbles, about five thousand people work. In these three counties are extracted, in about 200 quarries in operation, marbles appreciated worldwide, The Alentejo marbles, whose extraction dates back to Roman times, is exported to the whole world, 90 to 95% of production is for foreign markets and Middle East is one of the main destinations.The industry’s “golden years” were experienced in the mid-1970s and 1980s and 1990s, but were hampered by conflicts in the Middle East and by the international financial crisis of 2008. The war in Iraq, with the cancellation of orders from the main market, aggravated the crisis that the Alentejo marbles sector is experiencing. the bad situation of the sector is due to the internal and external conjuncture, but the military conflicts in this area came to create greater instability and to break the system. At the national level, marbles quarry employed around 80,000 workers in the 80s/90s, today that number is around 20,000. According to official data from the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology, between 1999 and 2007, both production and revenues generated by the sector have been falling year after year.
7. Portugal, Alentejo, Portrait of a miner - October 2016 The crisis registered an escalation of suicides in the rural areas, due to alienation and abandonment. The most recent period, where the “crisis-effect” is evident, there has been the highest suicide mortality rate. Before and the during the crisis, suicide rate in the rural areas of Portugal witnessed an increase of 22.6%.
8. Portugal, Alentejo, Alandroal Santuário da Rocha da Mina - September 2016 In the municipality of Alandroal, there is the Santuário da Rocha da Mina (Mina’s Rock Sanctuary); some authors classify it as a temple of Endovelicus. It is the only known place of this kind in Southern Portugal. Near the temple, we can find the Lucefecit rivulet that has been associated with Lucifer since the Middle Ages. Lucifer was the name used by the Romans for the Morning star and the goddess Venus. Some authors connect the name of the rivulet with the meaning of the place as being the “Glimpse of Light”. In the geological structure of the rock were carved steps and walls, constructed and arranged floors, usual elements applied in other pre-Roman santuaries, some of which Romanized and being commonly interpreted as places of ritual sacrifice. The ancient Lusitanian tribes that lived in this region before the birth of Portugal as country, are known to be followers. Several inscriptions suggest that the temple of Endovelicus was used as an oracle. One of the inscriptions states: EX IMPERATO AVERNO (by the determination that emanated from below) suggesting that there is a similarity to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Steam would emanate from below, deep within the earth, and bestow clairvoyance. Believers practiced also the incubatio, sleeping at the site, hoping for dreams they could interpret later.
9. Portugal, Lisbon, A jaguar sleeping - October 2016 At best, only an estimated 15,000 jaguars remain in the wild. More jaguars are killed as the demand for their fur increases. In hunting, the jaguar is usually chased by dogs until it runs up a tree or until it is cornered on the ground; then it is shot.During the sixties and seventies, around 18,000 jaguars were killed every year for their coat. Formerly prized furs, may no longer be hunted in the countries where they are indigenous, and many other countries forbid their importation. The Federal Endangerment Species Act prohibits the importation and sale of these furs in the United States. In addition, special laws that protect certain species, and wildlife refuges have been set up for the purpose of protecting the jaguar.
10. Portugal, Alentejo, Sao Domingos Mine - October 2016 The Achada do Gamo site is characterised by having a myriad of old mining infrastructures that are surrounded by several dumps, some containing milled ore, building debris, bedrock and closer to the dam, sediments derived from the run-off of these materials. Due to the extremely high concentrates of S-bearing minerals as well as sulphate salts, it is common to find carapaces made up of native sulphur crystals and neo-formed sulphates (melanterite, jarosite) at the edges of the various dams in the region. The sulphates are mostly visible in summer as they dissolve when it rains. Since 2001, EDM has been responsible for the environmental recovery of abandoned mining areas (more than 175 points have been identified, of which 80 have already been completed) and in the last 14 years there have also been work in São Domingos - namely the protection of Cut mining.
The centralisation of economic power and wealth sustained by EU governments has resulted in marginalization, poverty and abandonment of areas that were already disadvantaged — a process that completely destroyed social and economic structures of rural communities. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the political organisations that set out to support the weakest classes became corrupt, pursuing liberal economic policies to the detriment of those already disadvantaged.The unbridled pursuit of capitalism resulted in the social marginalisation of certain geographical areas, whose communities were forced to live outside the system merely to survive. As individuals abandoned the land, families broke down. Those that remained assumed a state of alienation and discomfort, resulting in an escalation of suicides. This unstoppable process was inherent to the pursuit of capitalist development. So that abandonment aimed to turn into desertification and eventual destruction. It only remains to witness helplessly this disappearance, and to the consequences that came with it.